Board, advocates reach agreement in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD—In late February, the Illinois House of Representatives passed 112-0 a “clean-up” bill modifying last year’s controversial amendments to the Chicago School Reform Act, which allowed LSC decisions on principal retention to be appealed. Two of the main adversaries in the battle over last year’s legislation the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and Designs for Change reached an early compromise this year, and the Chicago Board of Education made no objections, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).

In a provision pushed by the Principals Association, the new bill sets an earlier deadline for an LSCs decision on whether or not to renew a principal’s four-year contract—150 days before the principal’s contract end, compared to 45 days in existing law. “That would allow plenty of time for an appeal in the event one is needed,” says Gabriel Lopez, chief lobbyist for the Principals Association.

Under a provision pushed by Designs and other LSC groups, the burden of proof in any appeal of an LSC’s principal-retention decision would fall on the party seeking the appeal, says Bernard Lacour, policy director for Designs. “The LSC would not have to defend its position in retaining or not retaining a principal,” says Lacour.

In a separate deal, Lacour says Designs and other LSC advocates have agreed to stop pushing legislation that would tie increases in Chapter 1 funds to increases in general state aid. In exchange, the Board of Education has agreed to keep discussing the issue of more Chapter 1 funding informally, he says.

Meanwhile, a CPS request for an additional $65 million for Chicago teacher pensions has been introduced